Boom recruit Xavier Ellis booted four goals in a match-winning debut as Swan Districts overcame an early scare to post a 12-point win over a gallant Perth at Steel Blue Oval on Saturday.
Swans conceded the first four goals of the match before scoring in an extraordinary opening quarter that lasted 38 minutes and featured 12 goals.
But the hosts’ experience was telling after quarter time as Ellis combined with Doig medallist Ryan Crowley to rally their new WAFL club to a season-opening 12.11 (83) to 11.5 (71) victory.
Perth’s day was further soured with Sandover medallist Aidan Tropiano limping off with a leg injury in the third quarter and not returning to the field.
Ellis, who came out of retirement just three months ago, was a game changer rotating between the midfield and forward line.
The former West Coast defender and Hawthorn premiership player kicked three successive goals in a purple patch in the second quarter to lift Swans after they had trailed by as much as 31 points.
Crowley showed he had lost none of his football smarts and grunt around the ball in finishing with 20 possessions and a goal as a bigger-bodied Swans midfield got on top after quarter time.
Perth entered round one with fears over their 2017 prospects after losing experienced trio Angus Graham, Dene White and Tendai Mzungu over the off-season.
But boasting an exciting run and stun game plan, a youthful Demons side fielding five league debutants stunned Swans early to kick eight goals in the opening quarter.
It took until the 19-minute mark for the hosts to score after debutant Brayden Noble was awarded a 50m penalty and converted from the goal square.
Third-gamer Corey Byrne kicked two majors in two minutes for Perth as they moved the ball aggressively to take a four-goal lead into quarter time.
Swans fielded nine former AFL-listed players in a sign of their advantage in terms of experience.
All of their recruits were influential in the comeback.
David Ellard amassed 27 disposals, Jamie Bennell rebounding superbly from defence to finish with 32 possessions and Corey Gault kicked two goals.
Perth never gave up and broke a run of six successive majors against them to level scores late in the third quarter.
But Ellis’ fourth goal and a steadying major from Ellard either side of the final break clinched the win for Swans, who conceded just three goals after quarter time.
SWAN DISTRICTS 4.1 7.3 11.8 12.11 (81)
PERTH 8.1 9.2 11.2 11.5 (71)
GOALS – SWAN DISTRICTS: Ellis 4; Gault 2; Noble, Cary, Banfield, Stewart, Crowley, Ellard. PERTH: Byrne, Garstone 2; Tropiano, Johnson, Edmonds, Ninyette, Walley, White, Wilkins.
BEST – SWAN DISTRICTS: Ellis, Ellard, Riggio, Bennell, Crowley, Notte. PERTH: Sinclair, Byrne, Jones, Colledge, Ninyette, Marlin.
INJURIES – PERTH: Tropiano (leg).
UMPIRES: M Worobec, C Snadden, B Laycock.
CROWD: 2000 (approx) at Steel Blue Oval.